TB: Well, this is an important time of year and this is kind of where you build your foundation. I wish it was going perfect out there for us but there’s obviously a lot of work to do. The guys who have been out here are trying to work hard and get better and make improvement and not make the same mistakes twice. But you have to put it in; you have to put the time in. You have to put the effort in and you have to bring enthusiasm every day. It’s like your fourth or fifth day in a row and it’s warm… You have to be mentally tough to push through it. We’ve made some progress but there’s still a long way to go.
Q: Does it get any harder at age 35 to continue to push through it?
TB: You know I feel pretty good. I try to come out here every day and do what I’ve always done and be a good leader and set a good example. There’s nothing better than playing football. To think we get paid to do this is a pretty good gig.
Q: Coach Belichick was talking about pushing the limits in practice to figure out what you can do during games. How much does that process work itself out on the field during practice in terms of figuring out what can and cannot be done?
TB: You know you don’t want to come out here and throw a bunch of interceptions, but at the same time, you don’t want to… it’s not a game so you want to install things and see how they work and try to give guys an opportunity to go up and catch the ball and make plays on the ball. You probably do some things this time of year that you wouldn’t normally do, but at the same time you’re trying to make good decisions, read the coverage and get the ball to the right guy.
Q: Is it helpful for young players to come out to practice and take more chances that might lead to their improvement?
TB: Well a lot of times you learn from your mistakes. You have to make the mistakes to learn from them. You never know how tight a window is until you throw it and it’s too tight. So you try to force the ball in certain areas and you learn and say, ‘I can’t do that.’ You install new plays and you run them over and over and you try to identify all the problems when they come up and make good decisions. We’re out here running a ton of plays every day, 75-80 plays every day and believe me, they’re not all perfect. There’s a lot of learning every day and a lot of the situational stuff that we do. All of it’s a good learning experience – whether Ryan [Mallett] or Brian [Hoyer] is in there taking the snap, I’m paying attention to see what I would do if I was in there and vice versa. That’s the only way to play football. You can’t hear and only concentrate when you’re in. You have to learn from every day on the field, every rep in practice, mentally and then physically when you go out and do it, you have to go out and try to execute it the best way you can.
Q: Would you classify yesterday’s interception to
TB: Yeah, that’s part of what we’re talking about. We’re talking about end-of-the game plays and trying to see what mix of plays you’re going to run. The interesting thing about training camp is that there’s always going to be a bad play on the play. It’s the offense against defense. You’re not going to come out of too many practices where the offense does things 100 percent right and vice versa with the defense. We make our fair share of plays and they make their fair share of plays and you try to learn really on both sides.
Q: How would you assess your comfort level right now with the whole group of receivers?
TB: We have a lot of work to do. We put in probably three weeks. I don’t know how long it’s been. It feels like about three weeks. This week’s really felt like training camp, stringing these practices together. You can never get enough work. That’s the thing about football is you can never practice enough. The more practice, the better the practices are, the better your team’s ultimately going to be. Like I said, this is part of the foundation. You have to have a good spring so you can have a good start to training camp. You have to have a good start to training camp so you can have a good start to the regular season. That’s what we’re trying to do – put good practices together with good effort. Like I said, it certainly hasn’t been all perfect and it’s not going to be, but you have to be mentally tough enough to push through this time of year and go out there and come out tomorrow and try not to make the same mistakes again.
Q: Given the fact that you have a comfort level with the veteran receivers, does that speed up what you need to install?
TB: The more familiarity you have with the guys you play with, the more anticipation you play with. Offensive football is about anticipation, everyone being on the same page. That’s part of why we all need to be out here practicing together. The guys that are out here and working together, you can see improvement. The guys who aren’t out here as much are working hard to get back out here so they can make those improvements. That’s just part of the way it is. We have a lot of veteran players, but at the same time with new plays and new defenses – are we executing them with the situations that we’re going in? Coach Belichick puts a lot of pressure on us in situations daily. You see us every day at the end of practice, it’s always some kind of situational play. That’s part of the learning process for all of us.
Q: Was it frustrating to not be able to score last Thursday against the Saints?
TB: You know, we’re all trying to go out there and score, so when we don’t, it’s frustrating for all of us. Hopefully we learn from his stuff and we move forward and we come out here for this week of practice and try to eliminate mistakes. We’re always going to make mistakes, but you have to be mentally tough enough to move on from those mistakes as well. That’s what we’re trying to do out here with these practices.
Q: Are the running backs an untapped resource right now?
TB: I think the running back position has been very dependable. Those guys have been out here every day practicing. You really can see what they do. We’ve only had one opportunity in the game, but in practice you see the guys that, there’s a lot of guys in and out of the lineup and they’re working with different backs and guys are catching the ball and running with the ball. It’s a good mix. Everyone’s trying to establish a role for themselves. Shane [Vereen] is doing it. [
Q: Is it a good mix with the different skill sets that the running backs bring to the offense?
TB: The tailbacks in our offense have to do everything. It’s not like we can say, ‘You’re a first and second-down back. You have to run it.’ The guys that are in there on first down are the same guys you see in there on third down. They have to be able to catch the ball. They have to be able pass protect. They have to be able to run the ball. Those are the drills we’re working on every day. It’s not like you can be one-dimensional in this offense based on all the different things that we do. We try to put guys in different situations so they get matchups. I think those guys are doing a good job with taking advantage of those matchups when we get them.
Q: Do you take anything from getting over the Super Bowl loss into this that is going to help you in training camp?
TB: I honestly don’t think about last year much. This is a whole different team and we’re in a different situation. All of us have pretty much moved on from last year. You have to go out here and establish what this team’s going to be all about. The only way to do that is to come out here and work hard, practice and get better and like I said, go out there and try to execute at a higher level every week.
Q: As a quarterback who grades himself, do you ever look at what Michael Vick does in bewilderment?
TB: You can learn a lot from a lot of the quarterbacks in the league. I’m always watching. I’ll watch it every opportunity I get – different quarterbacks and their styles and the way they play the game. He’s obviously a phenomenal player and has been since the day he came in the league.
Q: How do you think
TB: Well, Nate’s worked hard since the day he got here. He’s played a bunch of different positions – right tackle, left tackle. He’s played tight end for us. We had him running out in pass routes last year, so I’m sure he’s kind of settled in at that left tackle position. He’s had a lot of opportunity this spring and this summer to get comfortable. He’s working hard like everybody else. None of us have it figured out at this point; it’s only mid-August. We have three weeks until the opener and we’re going to need every single day to make our improvements.